Liu, R., Wong, T.-C. and Liu, S. (2013), Low-wage migrants in northwestern Beijing, China: The hikers in the urbanisation and growth process. Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 54:3, pp. 352–371. doi: 10.1111/apv.12029
In the post-Mao era from the 1980s, market reforms have seen profit-led neoliberal forces being introduced into China’s urban spatial movements. In supporting such movements, labour mobility is allowed but the hukou system has been retained to prevent urban informality and slum formation and to control municipal public expenses. Without residency permits granted by the host cities, low-wage rural migrants enjoy little ‘right to the city’ and are deprived of local welfare and benefits. They often become ‘drifting tenants’, frequently driven by urban renewal, rising rentals and change of jobs. This study examines the spatial effect of causes (residency system) and consequences (frequent shifts in residence) experienced by low-skilled and low-wage migrants. A survey was conducted from February to mid-April 2011 in northwestern Beijing’s Great Zhongguancun area which shows and the marginalised state of displaced migrant tenants. This includes their adaptations to change, the pattern, causes and history of their intra-city mobility.